Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia are facing “substantial” impact from the plunge in oil prices and spread of the coronavirus disease, the International Monetary Fund said in a blog post.
Such a challenge facing those economies could intensify in the coming months and would hit hard “the region’s fragile and conflict-turn states” such as Iraq, Sudan and Yemen, said the IMF.
At present, about three-quarters of those countries have reported at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 and some — such as Iran — are dealing with “a major outbreak,” said the fund.
“Beyond the devastating toll on human health, the pandemic is causing significant economic turmoil in the region through simultaneous shocks — a drop in domestic and external demand, a reduction in trade, disruption of production, a fall in consumer confidence, and tightening of financial conditions,” the blog post read.
“The intertwined shocks are expected to deal a severe blow to economic activity in the region, at least in the first half of this year, with potentially lasting consequences,” it added.